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The founders of PopCap Games

Seattle’s gaming industry doesn’t always get the respect it deserves. But the industry is a very big business, and it is growing. A preliminary report from The Washington Interactive Network found that there are now more than 350 gaming and interactive media companies in the region, up from 150 in 2007.

Revenues at these companies were estimated to be $9.7 billion in 2010, more than double the $4.1 billion in revenues in 2006.

Interestingly, two of the biggest success stories in the Seattle tech community in the past 12 months have been in the gaming category. PopCap Games was sold to Electronic Arts for up to $1.3 billion in July, and just last month Double Down Interactive agreed to be sold for up to $500 million to IGT.

“I think it is one of the best places to have a game company,” said PopCap Games co-founder John Vechey, speaking on the GeekWire podcast in December. “One, I love this city. Two, there is a creative atmosphere in Seattle that I believe is different than, let’s say San Francisco…. In Seattle, a lot of the game companies start off as tried-and-true gamers…. I feel like it is more pure.”

The Seattle gaming community’s line-up of game companies is quite impressive, spanning big names such as Valve, Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo, Bungie, GameHouse and Big Fish. Zynga just opened a development center in Seattle last year, and a host of smaller, well-respected game studios also call the region home.

Furthermore, two video game educational institutions — DigiPen and the Academy of Interactive Entertainment — have operations here.

The full Economic Impact Study and Cluster Analysis — conducted by Community Attributes — will be released in April. The study is funded by enterpriseSeattle and a grant provided by the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge.

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